The Grinch—be it Delta,* Omicron or simply pandemic fatigue—has come early this holiday season and we certainly don’t want to invite him to the table to carve the roast beast.
That said, while indoor activities might not be top of your list (or outright cancelled) between now and the New Year, there are still plenty of ways to explore some the best of the season, safely.
Here are a few can’t-miss activities in the city that will ensure a fun and festive time while socially distancing outdoors.
Assiniboine Park is where it’s at
There’s so much in store for visitors right now at the city’s marquee park.
The Riley Family Duck Pond just opened, offering the most Instagrammable of locations to glide around. The pond will have you skating in style with a backdrop that features the Pavilion and The Park Café. The Park Treats takeout window is open with hot beverages and snacks while the Café itself is always ready with a great breakfast-brunch-lunch menu with many ingredients coming from this year’s harvest from the Gardens at The Leaf.
At Assiniboine Park Zoo you can see many northern species in their element. The Journey to Churchill exhibit features polar bears, wolves, Arctic fox, muskox and snowy owls, many of whom have been featured along with the zoo’s scientists and caretakers—on CBC Television’s Arctic Vets. When walking the zoo you’ll also find Amur tigers and snow leopards, both of whom relish the snow, along with many other majestic animals.
Should the weather turn chilly, you can always head into balmy Toucan Ridge, home to tropical birds, amphibians, monkeys and more.
With the exception of Christmas Day, the zoo is open throughout the holiday season, including Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
At night, Zoo Lights continues until January 2 (5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.). This extravagant light show illuminates the forested areas throughout the zoo (be sure to do the trail, it’s simply magical) while providing stops for food, live music and much merriment. It’s a visual treat for kids that parents will love too.
Timed Zoo Light tickets are available here.
Canad Inns Winter Wonderland
If you are looking for a light show you can see from the comfort of your car, Canad Inns Winter Wonderland has you covered. Featuring millions of lights and 26 enchanting displays that will have you glued to your window, Canad Inns Winter Wonderland is the best winter attraction when it comes to social distancing.
Located within Red River Exhibition Park (just west of the city), this dazzling light show is on now until January 8. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, along with online here.
Find it at the Forks
Winter at The Forks just feels right. One main reason is that you can skate so much of its grounds via Arctic Glacier Park, which connects the Canopy Rink, the CN Stage Rink (where you can play shinny in front of the WINNIPEG sign) and the Upper Trails, which allows you to skate across the Historic Rail Bridge. Skate rentals are available onsite from Iceland Skate Rentals ($6 for adults), while the ability to après skate within The Market is a huge bonus given the fabulous selection of food kiosks and the vast assortment of craft beer and interesting wines from The Common.
The Forks is also home to a donation-supported cross-country ski rental spot. The Plain Bicycle Traincar has a number of ski types for rent, along with snowshoes too. The area is also the spot to embark on a fat tire bike tour of the city, with rentals available from Kendrick's Outdoor Adventures. Plus, The Forks is home to Winnipeg invention crokicurl, a winter sport that combines crokinole and curling.
If you are looking to relax, check out sauna|Winnipeg, which has returned to the The Forks for 2021-22. This year’s two saunas are absolutely gorgeous, having been crafted by local company Sputnik Architecture. The Modern Wood cabin can fit up to eight guests (group bookings are a must) with tiered seating for those who like it hot (this puppy is also wood-fired). The Cedar Barrel sauna is suitable for four and uses electric heat. Bookings—which get your group a 90-min session that includes an outdoor fire pit and terrace—can be made online here.
The forests of FortWhyte Alive
After the hectic first few days of the holidays, some unwind time is in order. No place in Winnipeg does a better job at connecting people with nature than FortWhyte Alive. Here, you can go on a contemplative walk through its aspen forests, rent snowshoes to traverse its trails and frozen lakes, feel the wind in your hair on the huge toboggan slide or skate on the pond.
FortWhyte Alive also has 6 km of cross-country ski trails, from which you’re sure to spot white-tailed deer and an abundance of birds that call FWA home throughout winter.
Our Winter Top 50
Of course, the suggestions above are just a glance at what’s in store for visitors and locals this winter. For a more robust list, featuring acclaimed attractions like WAG-Qaumajuq and The Canadian Museum for Human Rights, concerts from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Opera and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet as well of plenty of fun places to bring the kids, see our Tourism Winnipeg Winter Top 50.
*By Delta we of course mean the variant, not downtown's fabulous Delta Hotels Winnipeg, which has great deals on all holiday season long!